The Doctor kissed his sleeping wife's forehead before slipping out from under the covers and tiptoeing into the hall. Aliya's room was a few doors down and he peeked in, finding his four-year-old flipping through a Gallifreyan copy of Goodnight Moon. He smiled and she looked up, her mouth spreading across her face into a giant grin.
"Daddy!" she whisper-shouted and she leapt into his arms.
"Good morning," he chuckled and he kissed her dark curls. "We have to be quiet so we don't wake up Mummy, okay?"
"Okay," she whispered. "Can we go get Ian now?"
They stole out of Aliya's room and into the next one, where a two-year-old boy with bright ginger hair and even brighter blue eyes squealed happily from his crib.
Hushing his son, the Doctor balanced the little boy on his hip and escorted his daughter through the Tardis halls and into the kitchen.
"Where are we going today, Daddy?" Aliya had mastered the Gallifreyan language by age four and she spoke it exclusively unless they ran into strangers. Her English was good and she wasn't half bad at any of the other Earth languages. Little Ian, whose full English name was Ian Wilfred Song, was good at Gallifreyan and passable at English but hadn't moved up yet with any other languages.
"Allon-sy?" Ian asked eagerly.
"Breakfast first," he said brightly and both of his children looked around.
"Why do we need Mummy? Can't we have breakfast with Daddy instead?"
"Daddy," Aliya said in the patient voice of a young child, "You can't cook."
"Sure I can!" He insisted enthusiastically. "You just watch me Aliya Song! Have a little faith!"
Ian looked from his father to his sister to the stove, and then threw back his head and wailed at the top of his lungs.
"Ian! Shhh! Mummy's sleeping!"
River shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing one eye sleepily.
"Not anymore. The Tardis woke me up. You threatened to try cooking, didn't you?"
"Daddy was gon' COOK, Mummy." Ian told her and then he laughed, blue eyes sparkling. River smiled and kissed his head.
"Good morning, sweet boy."
She moved to her daughter and planted a kiss on her head as well.
"Good morning sweet girl."
They made breakfast (they being River) and all ate. Ian made a minor mess with cereal and then proceeded to list the new words he had learned recently. River had dropped a pot on her foot the day before so three of the words were ones that the Doctor told Ian in a calm, relaxed voice were 'Mommy's mad words' and not to be used. After dropping the f-bomb twice more to test for effect, Ian gave it up and looked expectantly at his mother.
She threw her husband a glance,
"Of course, sweetheart. Mummy and Daddy will talk. Come on, let's go see the singers."
After settling the children with an interactive singing program, they cleaned the kitchen, all while discussing the potential adventure of the day. They decided on a group trip with the grandparents, though River agreed to pilot the Tardis. They tried to keep an approximate timeline with Amy and Rory, especially since they'd decided to have children as well. River's siblings played with their niece and nephew when they were all about the same age.
They flew to a far-off world and had an adventure that involved no shooting and more ice cream than was probably good for the four children and the Doctor. By the time the day was over, everyone was smiling and exhausted. Ian was starting to get fussy when River decided it was really time to get going.
After putting their children to bed, and River having a large glass of wine, they found themselves in their bed, just lying in each others' arms in that soft place between sleep and wakefulness.
"I've been thinking."
She chuckled sleepily,
"You ate too much ice cream, dear."
"Oh the kids had fun."
"True, but you still had more sugar than you really needed to."
"What's your point?"
"Your thinking could be clearer."
"I was thinking that you were right."
She shifted so her head rested on his chest, her knee between his thighs.
"I love our kids, but I'm not always going to be able to be here. I think we need to get…a house. Not for all the time, mind. Just for when we need to go somewhere and we can't leave the kids in the Tardis."
She nodded, knowing how much it took for him to tie himself to something.
"It's gotta be cool though," he said quickly, trying to save face. "We've got to have the coolest house in the universe."
"You know…I think I can help you with that one."
She got up pulled him with her. They went to the library where River dug through a pile of scrolls before pulling out a set of blueprints. She showed them to the Doctor, who grinned.
"That looks just cool enough."
"Good," River whispered. "Because I asked someone to build it for us three years ago."
The Doctor laughed delightedly.
"River Song, you're full of surprises."
"That's why you married me, isn't it?"
"That and because you're the best thing that ever happened to me."
She kissed him full on the mouth and slipped her hands into the waistband of his favorite nebula-patterned boxers, familiar with the dance they did. His arm slipped around her waist and pulled her closer, growling softly against her lips.
"Mummy?" came a soft voice, and River sighed quietly, pulling apart from her husband. They padded out of the library, down the hall, and into Aliya's room where she was clutching her stuffed flubble, teary-eyed.
"What is it Nova?" River asked, the Gallifreyan softening the words so they were gentler than the English translation.
"I had a scary dream."
River sat on one side of Aliya and the Doctor sat on the other as the four-year-old recounted a dream about a monster chasing her. The Doctor told her all about the monster, who happened to not only live on a planet they visited once, but was also a vegetarian whom was passionately fond of banjo music and tapioca pudding. By the end of the tale, Aliya was asleep again. River and the Doctor went back to their room, exhausted…but not too exhausted to finish what they'd started in the library.
The next day they visited the house which was built in a giant tree and decorated in soft colors, decorated with bright pictures and walls that you could draw on to your heart's content. There were ladders and nooks and a giant library full of books for all ages.
"How did you know I'd come around?" He asked her as Aliya and Ian clambered all over the bit of the tree that made part of their living room wall.
"I know you, sweetie."
"So it seems."
It was the beginning of their lives together, and yet the Doctor felt a deep sense of dread every once and a while, when his family slept and the Tardis was dark. He wondered, lying there awake, about the Library. He wondered about what was to come.
His relief came on Aliya's fifth birthday. He was grabbing a last-minute gift when he ran into a girl, maybe twenty-five, with chocolatey skin and a head full of thick curls. He literally crashed into her, knocking a box of red high heels open and tossing the shoes onto the sidewalk.
"Sorry, so sorry," he apologized, "I was just looking for a present for my daughter."
She looked up at him and grinned.
He blinked once, twice.
She held her red stilettos by the heels as she placed them back into the box.
"It's me, Daddy. It's Aliya."
"Yes, obviously. I like it though, especially the hair. It's nearly as great as Mum's. Now who's the present for?"
"You…you're turning five."
"Five…you got me a book and a magnifying glass."
"You're a Time Lord, Aliya."
"It was a really excellent book and the magnifying glass was more for you than me but we had fun with it."
"Any other clues?" He asked with a weak smile.
"Dad…you know the spoilers rule."
"Of course, silly me."
"But I'll give you a hint."
He leaned in closer in time to hear her say,
"Do you know what I love about libraries, Dad? No matter what you check into the system, you can always check it back out."
She was gone before he could ask any more questions, but he located Aliya's gift and that night he slept sounder than he had in years.
This is the end of this fic but the beginning of a story of a family. I don't intend on doing any collabs or extenders on this, though I may grace you with little oneshots from the future of the Song family now and again. And if you're very very good, I might write about how they save River. I've appreciated your comments, questions, and dedicated support to this fic and to me as an author and I hope to hear more remarks from you in the future. But until then, dear readers, Merry Christmas. And I hope you all have a very happy New Year.